Playpen

Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 12:09 on 19-06-2018, Raymond H
Hey man, fandom! (shrugs)

Okay. Yeah, I mean, I always knew that your fursona was meant to be a refection of yourself, but I never really realized how personal and meaningful the decision process could be. It's almost like choosing a pen name, I guess.

The thing is, I feel like I'm actually quite vanilla. I just have no real filter, and see nothing wrong in discussing sex frankly, and somehow this has allowed me to make friends with some very sexually adventurous and out-there people.
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at 03:55 on 19-06-2018, Ichneumon
Oh man, that guy. Oh wow. It used to be you just had to watch out for the prudy homophobes and the folks in the uniforms were just pervy dorks. *long sigh*

Essentially, your fursona is... whatever you want it to be, really. It's an expression of oneself, whether idealised or warts and all or apartments from one's personality as a character - a personal mascot or totem, if you will. The relationship and depth of context will vary.

Oh, I can very much relate to that. Having friends who are as demented as you are is important.
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at 12:45 on 18-06-2018, Raymond H
Yes, yes, I know. It's the straight ones you've got to watch out for an all that. I'm well aware of the Furred Reich, as it were. [adjusts monocle]

You...have evidently given this a great deal of thought. I confess my conception of picking a fursona mostly consisted of "Well I like this animal, so what the hey?"

I don't know. One of the reasons we sort of hit it off in the first place was that we could always count on each other to not freak out whenever the other brought up some kinky topic, even if the other didn't appreciate or even enjoy said topic. So I think if I asked him about it he'd tell me flat-out his opinions. He just would never admit defeat if a stranger deliberately tried to shock him.
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at 04:37 on 18-06-2018, Ichneumon
Bat wings, rather. Phone typing is an adventure.
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at 04:36 on 18-06-2018, Ichneumon
The better part of furry fandom is fairly tame sexually speaking, but getting too insistent on that point is kind of its own joke at this point. It is, however, something like 65-70% some shade of LGBT+, which is quite significant. And that isn't just nerdy cis gay dudes, either.

I chose the pine marten because it's cute and mustelids suit my personality, which is to say exuberant and maybe a bit daft in a charming way. Hopefully. And seeing as my status as a queer white mutt - half-Jewish, with a bit of every European ethnicity from the Caucasus to the Irish coast - had a certain sway in my understanding of privilege and relative rootlessness nationally speaking, I thought an animal with a similar range was suitable (rather than the American species which lives... well, not where I do in the US, however charming a beastie it be). My second option was the Livingstone's fruit bat, funnily enough, because I adore flying foxes and having a smelly, messy gay animal with dreadful eating habits would be delightfully on the nose, but nobody can draw bar wings quite right, let alone those insane backwards knees, so I stuck with martens.

The thing about the more extreme end of kemono art is that it's much like the extreme end of all other doujin material, which is to say it's often in a fairly cutesy (or, if drawing on bara/gei-komi, *manly*) style while portraying fairly extreme material, and being self-published, there is rarely much in the way of editorial discretion or oversight. Hence, even if he weren't shocked by the material, I can understand why he might be cagey. Admitting you've read some of that stuff to other people who aren't already in the know can feel... awkward.
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at 12:21 on 17-06-2018, Raymond H
Oh. Oh yeah. Enh, dang kids with yer Kinsey scales an' yer romantic orientations and whatnot. Back in my day it was just LGBT, now there's what, twenty different letters? I kid, I kid.

Oh. Oh. Huh. Well, at least now I know where that word comes from. From your description though, while I can say it's probably out of my comfort zone, I still think my friend's reaction would be little more than a disinterested grunt, if for no reason other than to spite whoever sought to shock him.

That...is an unusually specific species. But, hey, you do you. Just remember to do it gently and slowly, with plenty of lubrication. And clean yourself up beforehand so as to avoid UTI's.
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at 16:43 on 16-06-2018, Ichneumon
No problem. And yeah, I wouldn't be surprised, but it's worth pondering. Although, regardless, one's presence on the asexuality spectrum and a queer romantic orientation are not mutually exclusive by any means. So it's a wash.

When I said kemono, I was actually referring to Japanese furry culture rather than Kemono Friends, which is an odd little show I've been curious about for a long time. Japanese furry art takes a lot of stylistic influence from anime, as one might assume, and overlaps heavily with gay comics culture and the doujin scene. To remain circumspect on the matter, the more graphic material runs the gamut of just how likely any given work is to send the unprepared into shock. Soft vore, while weird, is not the level of sensory or emotional overload I'm talking about.

To the enquiry: An ichneumon is a kind of mongoose, notoriously ferocious for its tiny size. That said, although viverrids do hold a special place in my heart, my 'sona is a European pine marten. :3
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at 12:48 on 16-06-2018, Raymond H
Ah, sorry if I sounded harsh! It's just that when the role of historical homophobia comes up in conversation I often find people who are so used to the Christian, religious type of homophobia that they assume, if the element of religion is changed or removed outright, then homophobia itself would not manifest or develop, which sadly isn't the case. My argument was less that Miyazawa would have had no religious impetus at all to hide his sexuality and more that if it was religious it most likely would have sprung from his Nichiren Buddhist beliefs, rather than Catholicism, and also that there were other, more likely forces at play in terms of him being pressured to closet himself. I think out of the two options, asexuality is probably more likely than homosexuality with Miyazawa. That being said, you've made some compelling arguments for there being a gay undercurrent to NotGR. I just don't know any other stories by him that deal with an intense relationship between two boys. There was The Restaurant of Many Orders but that was more macabre horror than existential drama.

I myself read the Julianne Neville translation of NotGR, which I thought was alright, though I've been told that the Sarah M. Strong and John Bester translations are better. Don't read the Joseph Sigrist and D.M. Stroud translation.

I see. I must say, Buff Fox Dad is quite the silver fox (tee-hee), though personally I find the girl cuter. She's probably in high school though (ugh). That's the problem with watching a lot of anime these days. I can't fawn over the cute girls without feeling like a filthy ephebophile anymore. I asked my friend about those two anime, and his response was essentially "Oh...yeah! Yeah, I know those two. Enh, I mean, they're okay, I guess. You'd probably like them." I don't know about the Kemono doujins, but knowing him he has a high tolerance for internet shenanigans (I learned what vore was from him), so I don't expect him to feel that scarred by anything he saw. However, in fairness, the internet is a vast and scary place.

I feel kind of bad for not really finishing Kemono, because not only have several friends recommended it to me, but it's also really popular with my students, and watching the same shows as them is a great way to bond and show that I'm not just some scary foreigner. But I just...wasn't feeling it? It just didn't click. I had a similar experience with Eromanga-sensei, though I at least still watch that, albeit sporadically.

I have to ask, two last questions,
1) How do you pronounce your username? Because I keep thinking it's like the German "Ich bin Schnappi, das kleine Krokodil", but I don't know for certain
2) Is your username also your fursona name? Because apparently an ichneumon is an actual mythical animal, which, y'know, killed dem kleine Krokodils. And dragons. And cockatrices. Come to think of it they seem like violent little bastards.
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at 04:33 on 15-06-2018, Ichneumon
This is fair. I defer to your expertise on the matter. But I do think it worth considering the climate and attitudes within the faiths with which Miyazawa came to fashion his worldview at the time in accounting for how he might have led his life with respect to these things. That said, he just as well might have had no romantic interests at all, although I should certainly like to acquire a good translation of the novel and read more of his work in general should I seek a better understanding of him—and I certainly should like to!

Hmmm. My significant other informed me that Gingitsune has much the same appeal as Natsume Yuujinchou, but with a Buff Fox Dad as a deuteragonist, so decent anime and manga with furry appeal certainly exist (and Aggretsuko adds to that number), but all told... I get a feeling your friend has read some kemono doujinshi, and let me tell you, some of that shit is *wild.* But that’s kind of the point of doujin manga: You have complete creative freedom. Which can mean so, so many things.
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at 10:27 on 14-06-2018, Raymond H
Devoutly? That's...not the word I would have used. I mean, he wanted to be a Nichiren Buddhist priest before a fellow clergymen convinced him to write. And he was actually quite critical on the subject of the Christian afterlife. Miyazawa sympathized with Christianity, due to both it and Nichiren Buddhism stressing the importance of self-sacrifice and making the world a better place. However, he ultimately disagreed on the Christian idea that, once you've done these things and died, you are rewarded with heaven. Miyazawa believed that, while heaven was certainly something you deserved if you spent your life helping the world, it was ultimately a selfish thing to wish for, because if heaven and earth are separate entities, it means that the earth can never be as good as heaven, and thinking this way ultimately self-sabotages any attempts to make the earth better. You don't have to care about something you'll eventually leave for good, which will never be as good as the place you'll leave it for (You'll notice that while the Christian heaven is presented as a beautiful place, it isn't the last stop on the railroad). Because of this, while the Christians in NotGR are presented sympathetically, the true hero of the story, and the person we're really supposed to sympathize with, is Giovanni. He has every reason to quit life. His dad's a no-show, he has to work an unrewarding job to feed his family, his classmates regularly torment him, his mother is constantly ill, and by the end, the only friend he ever had has died and left him alone. However, Giovanni ultimately chooses to keep living, and to remain strong, not in spite of Campanella's death, but because of it. Campanella's soul will be reborn someday, and a piece of it still remains in Giovanni's heart. So long as that's the case, Giovanni will work towards making the world a better place, for the sake of his dearest friend. Giovanni chooses not to seek out heaven in the afterlife, but to work towards making a heaven on earth. This is ultimately the central thesis, the defining pillar, in all of Miyazawa's works.

If Miyazawa was pressured to hide his sexuality (which is, again, a reasonable theory), it would have been due more to political (he lived to see the rise of imperialism and fascism, both of which stress the importance of keeping the bloodlines pure and making lots of pure-blooded babies) or social (he grew up in a small, rural town, which tend to be known for distrusting and destroying anything they deem too strange and different) reasons than religious (Christianity certainly exists here, and a friend/tutor of mine is in fact Christian herself, but it's never gotten big or powerful enough to have that major an effect on the national policy or zeitgeist).

Another possibility that occurred to me is that the relationship between Giovanni and Campanella is left ambiguous for the same reason their race or nationality is left ambiguous, to more easily allow anyone to project their own experiences with love and loss. I myself have never lost a lover (cripes that sounds silly when I type it out), but I have lost family, so the angle of Miyazawa's sister appeals and resonates with me, and depending on the experiences of whoever is watching the film or reading the book, a different relationship may seem more apparent, one that will more deeply resonate with them.

You're right. The vibe I get from those two is very much akin to the feeling of first love. And if I made it sound as though I overtly opposed a gay romantic reading to the story, I must apologize. I think it's a perfectly valid and appropriate way to view the story. However, whether that was intentional on the author or director's part is something which I'm unsure on.

Believe me, as someone who wrote his Senior Thesis on Kenjy Miyazawa, and who visited his museum when I studied abroad in Iwate, I also have a lot to say about him. Indeed, I still want to translate some of his works (I don't think it'd be humanly possible to translate all of them in a single lifetime, but one can dream).

Also, I asked my friend if he knew any good furry anime, and he paused for a while before replying "I...know furry anime." The only one he thought was good enough to recommend or even admit to reading unironically was Beastars though, which I haven't read myself, but have seen art of.
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at 06:44 on 14-06-2018, Ichneumon
As you might have noticed, I have a *lot* to say about this subject. :P
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at 06:42 on 14-06-2018, Ichneumon
Miyazawa was devoutly Catholic before the Vatican II reforms. If he were gay, I can imagine its presence in his work being quite circumspect. And indeed, Giovanni’s infatuation is still subtle, the almost familial bond through their fathers and their social connections coloured by something budding yet very intimate—the desire to share one’s whole life and secret self with someone who you feel can understand you in a way not even family can. First love, to be more blunt, clear to the audience and seemingly to clever, kind Campanella, who knows exactly where he is going and how this will shatter his sensitive friend, but not quite to Giovanni himself. (I would also say that, in addition to the themes of sacrifice, the story explores different kinds of love and loss through Giovanni’s absent father, the boys’ journey, and of course the conclusion, in a way that does not make the further romantic angle inherently contradictory or out of place.)
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at 10:49 on 13-06-2018, Raymond H
In all seriousness though, your condolences are appreciated. I don't think I'm going to be deported just yet, although I may be barred from the restaurant for life. Considering the two options though I am okay with this. I'll keep y'all updated.

manga by and large displays a much greater number and diversity thereof than anime.

Yeah, I think that's honestly just because you can get away with more in manga than anime, since one is printed and the other broadcasted.

but I don't see a lot of people talk about just how thickly laid on the homoromantic subtext is on Giovanni's side of the equation.

I think the reason for that is that Miyazawa never really hid the fact that he wrote Galactic Railroad as a means of dealing with his sister's death, whom Campanella is a stand-in for, so when the deeper connection between him and Giovanni is analyzed, it's usually through the lens of a more familial love. Miyazawa secretly being gay or asexual certainly is within the realms of possibility. He never expressed any real interest in romance, and even when they appear in his stories, romantic relationships are noticeably chaste. At the same time, I know Gisaburo Sugii took some liberties with the original Railroad story, and considering he also directed Stormy Night, it wouldn't surprise me if he inserted a gay romantic subtext where none was intended. It's been a while since I read the original novel, so I'd have to go back to check, but yeah, movie-Giovanni and Campanella are probably the steamiest it gets in a Miyazawa story.
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at 23:18 on 12-06-2018, Raymond H
Well, on the bright side, I found this, which led me to this.
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at 03:30 on 12-06-2018, Robinson L
Seconded on the condolences - yikes, what a week.
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at 20:28 on 11-06-2018, Ichneumon
Yow. My condolences...

On a lighter note, I am well aware of basically every show and comic you mentioned there, but still, it should be noted that with queer male leads, manga by and large displays a much greater number and diversity thereof than anime. On that note, however...

Night on the Galactic Railroad is fascinating for a whole host of reasons, but I don't see a lot of people talk about just how thickly laid on the homoromantic subtext is on Giovanni's side of the equation. Which honestly makes the film even more haunting. (I will say that I feel like the "sensitive mistreated boy with one very close friend" quite frequently has this subtext, particularly in older works where an explicit acknowledgment of budding homosexual interest would be taboo, but it's *really* pronounced in the adaptation.)
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at 12:23 on 11-06-2018, Raymond H
Hey gang! I'm back! Sorry 'bout that! This week I was stricken with a cold, pushed to give up a potential job offer, beleaguered by bureaucratic loan-consolidators, hit by a car, forced to break up with my girlfriend, laughed and mocked at by someone I opened up to concerning a childhood trauma, threatened with assault charges after I threw some water in said someone's face, and almost fired and deported on the spot. Only one of those things is a lie.

On the subject of furry anime, I guess any anime with talking animals would work. Night on the Galactic Railroad springs to mind immediately, but there's also Hamtaro, and, Squirrel and Hedgehog is anime, right? (Kidding, kidding)
As for good gay leads, My Younger Brother's Husband, Wandering Son (more about Trans characters than straight-up gay, but still), and Shimanami Tasogare are good. I haven't personally read that last one, but my friend highly recommends it. I really hate Husband's English translation, especially since my final project for my translation class was about how to address the character Mike's unique speech pattern (which it looks like the official translation simply ignores), but it's by Gengoroh Tagame, who was a big figure in the 80's bara scene (which for many gay men was the only place to get a comprehensive sex ed back then), so it's legit. I'd have to ask my friend for a more comprehensive list.
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at 04:20 on 08-06-2018, Ichneumon
Now I'm contemplating "furry anime" as a thing and realising just how few I can think of, even as someone deep in both fandoms. That said, finding non-stereotypical queer male leads in anime is arguably even more difficult...
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at 12:03 on 05-06-2018, Raymond H
Yes! All according to my diabolical plan!
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at 21:25 on 04-06-2018, Arthur B
I binged Aggretsuko over the weekend, it's pretty fun.
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at 20:36 on 04-06-2018, Robinson L
Raymond: apparently the official name was Stout Meetinghouse so you're absolutely right.

That makes more sense.


Ichneumon: People who deny the Holodomor are terrifying to me in concept in the same way that Holocaust deniers are, even if in practice they're slightly less than prepossessing.

I've encountered both, and while they were not, to me, particularly scary at the time, there was a similar, unsettling detachment from reality as I know it.


Coincidentally, I found out last night that a couple of my sisters are watching Aggretsuko on Netflix, so interesting convergence, there.
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at 12:31 on 03-06-2018, Raymond H
Funny you should say that. I got a gay, Black, furry, nihilist, paranoid schizophrenic best friend who adores Feneko. He doesn't even like girls, but he likes Feneko.
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at 03:07 on 03-06-2018, Ichneumon
Let's not talk long about tankies. People who deny the Holodomor are terrifying to me in concept in the same way that Holocaust deniers are, even if in practice they're slightly less than prepossessing. But then, so were the fascists I've had the amusing misfortune to speak with.

As for Aggretsuko, all I have heard indicates that it is thoroughly charming yet mature, in the actual meaning of the word. But I am also shallow and gay and Haida is *adorable.*
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at 01:31 on 03-06-2018, Raymond H
Ah, also, I'm not entirely sure what the building itself was called. I just know that every Sunday people would gather there to do Quaker-things, and it looked kind of like a church, and apparently the official name was Stout Meetinghouse so you're absolutely right.
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